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Artificial pancreas technology set to change lives

Emerging technology could help patients who are unable to manage their type 1 diabetes.

Individuals who are typically unable to manage their type 1 diabetes will be offered new technology to help them control their condition. Furthermore, the assistance is delivered with little human input.

An independent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) committee has recommended the use of hybrid closed-loop systems for managing blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetes, with the technology described as a step towards an artificial pancreas.

The technology transmits data to a body-worn insulin pump which uses the data to run a mathematical calculation in order to work out how much insulin needs to be delivered into the body to keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range.

It effectively allows patients with type 1 diabetes to go about their day-to-day lives without having to continuously monitor blood glucose levels.

When type 1 diabetes is not well controlled, patients are often at risk of long-term complications such as blindness, amputations, or kidney problems.

NICE has recommended that patients who are unable to control their condition in spite of using an insulin pump – or real-time or intermittently scanned continuous glucose monitoring – are offered the technology if their long-term average blood glucose levels suggest they are at risk of long-term complications.

Those patients who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy are also eligible because blood glucose levels are harder to manage during this time.

Mark Chapman, interim director of medical technology at NICE, explained: “Some people living with type 1 diabetes struggle to manage their condition, even though they are doing everything asked of them by their diabetes team. This technology is the best intervention to help them control their diabetes, barring a cure.”

“Our committee has reviewed the real-world data generated by the NHS and evidence generated by randomised controlled trials which show there are clear benefits of recommending the technology’s use. We look forward to working with NHS England and industry to ensure a cost-effective price can be reached which is fair to taxpayers,” he added.

Around 105,000 patients in England are set to be offered the technology. Meanwhile, it is estimated that approximately 278,000 people in England and Wales are living with type 1 diabetes.